Doorstep Postings: When war in Israel escalates the extremely online battles in our backyard

This is a special edition of Doorstep Postings, the periodic political commentary column written by Josh Lieblein for The CJN.

There’s a lot we don’t know about the horrific situation Israel has been plunged into. The fates of those captured—including Canadian citizens. The details of the warnings that were missed, and how those details may end Benjamin Netanyahu’s political career for good. Whether peace or a two-state solution will ever be viable again. A slew of unknowns are troubling, even if we will get answers in time.

But amidst the grief, there is gratitude to be found. Gratitude in knowing things for a certainty. Clarity with respect to what our neighbours here in Canada and around the world really think. And an unambiguous way forward, away from pleading with those who refused to be moved by Jewish suffering, and towards the people who get it, and have spent years telling us how much they do. 

It is this newfound clarity, this new way forward, that led to the immediate reprisal against Ontario NDP MPP Sarah Jama for a ceasefire call that failed to make even the most cursory mention of the expression of anti-Jewish hatred that triggered this explosion of bloodshed.

Even now, even as the party tries to walk things back—and tries to gaslight voters into believing that this is just another call for peace and justice from a newbie politician who’s brought them down this road before—they fail to understand what the problem was. The time for kissing up to parties who refuse to understand how their obsessive focus on anti-Zionism leads to antisemitism which in turn leads to violence against Jews is, blessedly, over. The Ontario NDP, and their leader, is not interested in the votes of Jews concerned about their own safety, and I expect the feeling is mutual. 

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First things first: what you saw on social media, what you’ve heard about on the news, and what you’ve read about rallies taking place in Canadian cities where the murder, capture, rape and preying upon of Jewish civilians was both-sided, celebrated, treated as some sort of victory, and held up as an example of how “decolonization” is supposed to work was not some aberration, not an expression of concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people, and not something that can be whitewashed (as it so often is) as a legitimate means of resistance.

What took place in Canada was cheerleading for Hamas, and co-signing the aims of that group, in the same way that the riots at Concordia University was, in the same way that Laith Marouf and his government-approved Jew hatred was, in the same way that all the school board struggles, all the wrangles over political candidates, every attempt at boycott, divestment and sanctions over the last two decades was. Every single one of these incidents moved Canada closer to the critical mass that was finally achieved over a very long weekend.

It used to be that only the farthest fringe could be counted on to actually take to the streets to celebrate a terror attack within days of the actual attack happening. If you’ve been following along with the situations in Ukraine, India, China, the United States—or even right here in Canada where things get violent—you know that the loudest voices are those who see conflict like their own personal Star Wars.

No matter what the particulars of the situation are, it’s always the same story: the brave oppressed minority fighting back against the evil, racist empire who have infiltrated Canada at the highest levels and are secretly influencing the media and politicians to do their bidding.

So desperate are some Canadians to escape their middle-power doldrums that they willingly become useful idiots for one side or another. They get involved in this or that nomination race; they get caught funnelling cash to some sketchy group; they change their names, they go native. They applaud Nazis on the floor of the House because they know they’re supposed to back the correct side in a conflict they can’t be bothered to research. They become terrified of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and a host of lesser tin-pot dictators—but they can’t pick their locally elected representatives out of a lineup. 

And until recently, this approximated the mindset of the majority of Israel-haters in Canada. For them it’s a hockey game where Israel is scoring too many points and keeps ragging the puck on the Palestinians. Don’t bother explaining the context, because nobody feels bad for the winning team. Luckily though, you could usually get these folks to draw the line at downplaying the murder of Jews. 

No more. Now we know how to separate the cosplayers, the ones who conflate their own issues with Israel’s issues, from the folks who are looking at what Hamas did as something aspirational—as what popular resistance is supposed to look like. Because once you cross that line, you can’t go back to the safety zone of, “To be fair, Israel commits war crimes, not that it justifies what Hamas does.”

Once you cross that line, what Israel did becomes irrelevant because you have admitted that Jew-murder is the name of the game. And when you admit that Jew-murder is the name of the game, then everything, and that includes anything, needs must become fair game in order to prevent further Jew-murder. 

It’s a strange thing to be grateful in the midst of grief, but finally being able to do what’s necessary is a precious gift indeed. 

Josh Lieblein can be reached at [email protected] for your response to Doorstep Postings.